Posts Tagged ‘cambridge folk festival’

Live Review | Cambridge Folk Festival 2016

Posted on August 5th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

ChristyMoore ©Jordan Harris

Kevin Bourke sampled all the musical delicacies on offer at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival. Photos by Jordan Harris

One of the great things about the Cambridge Folk Festival is that it’s perfectly possible to chart any number of different paths through the weekend’s festivities. You could simply opt, for instance, to see the seasoned folk festival campaigners like Christy Moore (pictured above), who cannily conjured up a version of ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ about local hero Syd Barrett in the midst of a commandingly-delivered set of old favourites, or Kate Rusby, who has virtually grown up in front of these people. So too has Eliza Carthy whose new Wayward Band obviously has an eye on that Bellowhead-shaped hole on the touring circuit. Speaking of that fiendish ensemble, Jon Boden chose to refloat his solo career with a Thursday night headliner that demonstrated he’s lost none of his slightly bonkers flamboyance.

Then you have the dance-friendly crowd-pleasers in early evening slots, like the sinuous Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal, the sunny Caribbean rhythms-meets-industrial Manchester Ballads of Edward II, or the harder-edged Afro Celt Sound System. The new wave of English folk was strong not only in the Club Tent, The Den and the other fringe stages, but with high-profile slots for the ferociously committed but hilarious Stick in the Wheel, as well as Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys and Sam Lee & Friends.

As ever, American music was also well represented. Mary Chapin Carpenter closed out her UK tour with confidence and cool style, while the distinctly earthier The Cash Box Kings determinedly brought a ferocious jolt of genuine Chicago blues to the party. More laidback but just as arresting in her own way, Leyla McCalla undoubtedly won over a whole host of new fans, just as her former Carolina Chocolate Drops colleague Rhiannon Giddens had done in a similar spot last year.

But the ‘I was there’ stories were those of Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton and Darlingside (pictured below). Something extraordinary was obviously going on from the minute Paxton took to Stage 2 on Friday evening. Accomplished way beyond his years and with a droll delivery that belies the way he so fully inhabits the blues tradition, the news of his triumph spread so fast that when he appeared in the Club Tent only a couple of hours later you could barely get near the place. Meanwhile, so popular had the bracing harmonies, free-spirited musical experimentation and jocular stage presence of Darlingside proved with the early evening Stage 2 audience on Saturday that, when Charles Bradley was unexpectedly taken ill, they took over his Stage 1 slot only an hour later. Their appearance there was such a triumph that not only did the on-site CD stall prove unable to keep up with demand for their ‘Birds Say’ debut album but their Sunday signing and busking sessions turned into major events!

Darlingside ©Jordan Harris


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Cambridge Folk Festival starts today!

Posted on July 30th, 2015 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


The annual celebration of all things folk (plus plenty more besides) kicks off tonight with yet another impressive line-up to look forward to

The big-name crowd-pullers are undoubtedly the two Joans – that’s Joan Baez (on Saturday) and Joan Armatrading (on Sunday), plus Frank Turner (on Friday). But there are plenty of other acts to get excited about – some well-known on the folk circuit, others less so. Here’s my pick of ones worth checking out.

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Friday
The group from Salento have been delighting audiences for over 40 years with their infectious pizzica music from southern Italy.

De Temps Antan – Friday, Saturday & Sunday
French-Canadian folk music always goes down a storm at Cambridge and this year it’s the turn of the Québécois trio who will be bringing their joie de vivre to Cherry Hinton Hall.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – Thursday & Friday
The winning combination of Ben’s exquisite guitar playing together with Josienne’s beautifully melancholic vocals is bound to attract a crowd.

Sorren Maclean – Sunday (pictured top)
The young singer-songwriter and guitarist from the island of Mull has been touring with Roddy Woomble and was a big hit at this year’s Celtic Connections festival. He’ll be showcasing tracks from his new album, Winter Stay Autumn.

Jaron Freeman-Fox – Sunday
This fantastic Canadian violinist has performed and collaborated with an intriguing mixture of musicians, ranging from British song collector Sam Lee, Rajasthani Gypsy musicians and Inuk throat singer (and recent Songlines cover star) Tanya Tagaq. Jaron’s band are appropriately called The Opposite of Everything – expect the unexpected!

The festival is now sold out. However if you didn’t manage to get a ticket, fear not, BBC Radio 2 will be broadcasting live from the Festival from 3-6pm on Saturday. Sky Arts will also be broadcasting highlights for a future transmission.


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Live | Cambridge Folk Festival 50th Anniversary

Posted on August 14th, 2014 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .


Photography by Philip Ryalls

Jo Frost looks back at one of the highlights of the 50th Cambridge Folk Festival on August 2, where Martin & Eliza Carthy took to the stage

There were, unsurprisingly, elements of nostalgia about this year’s special anniversary edition, with some classic old-timers such as Van Morrison, Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson gracing the bill. In a Q&A slot on Stage 2, journalist Colin Irwin led an onstage chat with Martin Carthy, his daughter Eliza, and Richard Thompson, reflecting on the festival and all things folk. When the audience were invited to put forward questions to the trio, someone asked where they thought folk would be in 50 years time, to which Eliza quickly answered, “Well, I’ll be dead – or here!”

It seems fitting then that the Waterson/Carthy dynasty play such an important role in Cambridge’s progression over the last half century – and illustrates just how cyclical the nature of folk is. Mike Waterson appeared at the very first edition, Martin Carthy at the second and 50 years on, father and daughter are playing together – with Eliza’s young daughters in the crowd.

Looking resplendent with long, royal blue hair – specially dyed for her forthcoming tea with the queen to receive her MBE – Eliza and her dad Martin perform songs from their latest album, The Moral of the Elephant (a Top of the World review in #101). Although the pair have, of course, spent their lives playing together, it is actually the first album they’ve recorded – just the two of them.

There’s an evident appreciation between the pair, as Eliza looks on, smiling warmly when Martin takes the singing lead, his voice slightly reedier with age. In contrast, despite having had problems with her voice over the last few years, Eliza sounds better than ever; her voice soars as she raises her arms as if conducting an imaginary orchestra, or perhaps the audience. On guitar and violin, they perform their versions of traditional songs, such as ‘The Grand Conversation on Napoleon’ and ‘The Bonny Moorhen’, plus newer songs like ‘Happiness’ written by Nick Drake’s mum, which Eliza describes as “the saddest song about happiness I know,” and ‘Monkey Hair’ by the late Michael Marra – a terribly poignant and tender song about bereavement. Eliza quips “there are no happy songs after this!” and in true folk style, there’s not a lot of jollity to be had in the subject matter. But despite the sadness and tragedy in many of the songs, the sight of this father and daughter duo performing together with such ease and enjoyment was a very special moment and a festival highlight.

An interview with Martin & Eliza at the festival:

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Cambridge Folk Festival announces 2014 line-up

Posted on February 25th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


The Cambridge Folk Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary in style this summer – July 31-August 3 – with Van Morrison and Sinéad O’Connor set to fill two of the headline slots.

On July 31, the Cambridge Folk Festival will reach the grand old age of 50 and organisers have announced the first names on what is shaping up to be a rather diverse and impressive line-up.

To celebrate the milestone, Sinead O’Connor will perform on the Friday evening with Van Morrison making his Cambridge Folk Festival debut on the Sunday. Other acts include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Peggy Seeger and the winners of Best Group and Best Album at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, The Full English.

To coincide with this announcement, the festival also picked up the prestigious Good Tradition award at last week’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, giving the organisers even more reason to celebrate.

Acts announced so far:

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita (Thurs), Pokey LaFarge (Thurs/Fri), Sinéad O’Connor (Fri), Richard Thompson (Fri), Afro Celt Sound System (Fri), Peggy Seeger (Fri), Cara Dillon (Fri), Rosanne Cash (Sat), Loudon Wainwright III (Sat) The Full English (Sat), Lúnasa (Sat/Sun); Sarah Jarosz (Sat/Sun), Van Morrison (Sun), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Sun), Jason Isbell (Sun)

Check out the festival website for more information and tickets. More artists to be announced.

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